CASE STUDY - VICTREX
WHAT IS MATERIALS CHEMISTRY?
THE INNOVATIVE HIGH PERFORMANCE POLYMERS
Victrex is a company built on materials chemistry, which has worked with the KCMC for 5 years. Today, their products are manufactured exclusively in the UK and 97% of their revenue comes from export. One of their biggest successes is polyaryletherketones (PEEK), a family of thermoplastics with remarkable properties.
John Grasmeder, Technical Director at Victrex explains that PEEK is used in a wide range of industries – “The value proposition is strongest when there are a number of problems to solve, and PEEK ticks quite a few boxes.”
PEEK has applications in the aerospace industry where its low mass and burn-resistant properties mean that it is used to replace metal piping and gears. PEEK comes in at around 50% lighter than the metals most commonly used, meaning that mass savings are huge – according to John “…by replacing 100 metres of pipe in one aircraft you can save $3,300 in fuel costs and 11 tonnes of carbon dioxide in one year”. Gears made from PEEK are 15 times more durable than metal ones, and significantly reduce noise levels, and when used in engines, have been shown to improve their overall efficiencies, by reducing power consumption. “The polymer for gears came out of an idea we had during a collaboration with the University of Manchester” explained John, “and this partnership was created by the KCMC.”
Working with the KCMC was the key to helping Victrex grow – “The partnerships which the KCMC has helped us establish have been vital and we’re now working with Thomas Swan to scale up the process. Having the flexible, cost effective and responsive support from the KCMC has been invaluable, and they’ve not just put us in touch with academics – they also helped provide access to funding and a template for setting up the project and protecting IP.”